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Saudi Arabia: An inflection point in destiny

Faisal Al-Shammeri

Published: Updated:

There was once an emerging power with ambitions that stretched beyond its shores. This power was a regional hegemon but a great debate raged within its ruling elite. The question was about who should participate and partake of the gains made by this society?

On the one hand were those who believed that the benefits and gains were the result of the decision-making of the ruling elite, and so the benefits should also accrue to them alone.

On the other hand, there was a view that such exclusive privileges posed a mortal threat to the long-term viability of society and that the disparity between the ruling elite and the governed would keep expanding and would be impossible to even partially reverse in a worst case scenario.

The status quo camp of the entrenched elite believed that to implement change in an already successful model of governance would introduce instability in the system and that the inclusion of citizenry would eventually force the establishment to lose its grip on power.

The populist wing believed that the citizenry was already getting wary of the existing gap between the aristocratic establishment and the general masses. They held that to allow it to exist for perpetuity would spell danger for all of society.

Historic steps taken by Saudi Arabia shows that it is fully committed toward building a modern, prosperous, and inclusive society that seeks to enhance the latent potential of its citizenry

Faisal Al-Shammeri

End of status quo

One man from the establishment realized that this status quo could not continue indefinitely. He argued that the issue of the status quo be seriously addressed.

For him, the ambitions, prosperity and opportunities that beckoned society should be made available to it; that the wealth that abounded on account of previous achievements would multiply a thousand-fold if all in society participated fully in its generation. He firmly believed that opportunity should not be the privilege of the aristocracy alone.

This man boldly declared his allegiance to the people, and publicly proclaimed his vision that he wanted to seize control of the aristocratic lands and redistribute them to the people, that he wanted to design a power structure with an inherent feature for the participation of the citizenry.

He conceived of a free-flowing economic model that allowed for commerce to thrive in such a manner that the benefits of the system would be made available to all. The man we are discussing here is Julius Caesar.

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However, we know of the tragedy that befell him. But the vision of Julius Caesar did not end with him. It was carried out by one of the greatest rulers of Rome Octavius Ceasar, whom history generally refers to as Augustus. It was Augustus who ended the vice-like grip of the aristocracy over the power and wealth of Rome.

It was this ruler who carried out Caesar’s vision of land redistribution for the benefit of the poor, in an attempt to build an inclusive society. He created the civil service, ensured the safety of travel for the good of commerce throughout Roman territories and thereby ushered in the greatest era of peace and prosperity ever known to Rome.

Moment of truth

The events of November 4th have many parallels with the above narration about Augustus’ reign. In order for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to fully achieve its great potential we must have a society where the full participation of its citizenry becomes an everyday reality.

The greatest asset that the Kingdom has is its people. Recent steps taken towards the inclusion of women in society is part of that reorientation that will allow for the full mobilization of society. Their potential should be allowed to flourish in the most favorable environment.

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The growth of the Kingdom over the past 50 years has been remarkable. From a few small intersections on the road, Riyadh has emerged as a great urban metropolis. The achievements made in this period have been experienced by many, but not all. The biggest strategic threat facing the nation would be if it if fails to mobilize its citizenry.

An individual should believe that with an upright character, ethical conduct and right habits good things can happen to her or him as well. Opportunities should not be the preserve of the few, but for all. The benefits of a society and the prosperous well being of the nation should be felt by all, not by the few. Economic prosperity, with the full mobilization of the citizenry, is our national security.

Time for a fully invested citizenry

November 4 represents the most historic moment for Saudi Arabia since 1979. Many limitations that have kept the nation from progressing to its desired destination were the outcome of events that took place in 1979.

For the implementation of Vision 2030, which embodies the official policy of Saudi Arabia, the issues caused by 1979 must be removed from the consciousness of society and the vision of a fully invested citizenry be achieved.

There can be no conditionality or limitation attached to this pursuit. It must be stated here that the vision of Julius Caesar, fulfilled by Augustus, led to the most prosperous and peaceful time Rome ever knew.

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In a time of uncertainty, when the region is beset with misfortune and despair, the historic steps taken by Saudi Arabia shows that it is fully committed toward building a modern, prosperous, and inclusive society that seeks to enhance the latent potential of its citizenry.

This progress of society cannot be put on hold for the continued sustenance of the status quo. The perils of continuing on the hackneyed path will lead nowhere and may even imperil future of the nation itself. In going with what we have known for so long is where the risk lies. In embarking on a new path we have a clear outcome, with a shining beacon at the end of the journey.

The dream of creating a modern, prosperous and inclusive Saudi society is now a living reality. Citizens, your nation asks you to pool in all your talents and to make your dreams public for all to see. For every citizen, for want of a better expression, anything is now possible.

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Faisal Al-Shammeri is a political analyst based in Washington DC. He tweets @mr_alshammeri.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.